Published On: May 07 2014 03:15:42 PM CDTUpdated On: Feb 19 2014 01:58:30 PM CST
Boko Haram has terrorized northern Nigeria regularly since 2009, attacking police, schools, churches and civilians, and bombing government buildings. At least 5,000 people have died at Boko Haram's hands, according to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report, making it one of the world's deadliest terrorist organizations.
In March 2015, Boko Haram posted a graphic video online showing the apparent beheadings of two men who the group said were suspected spies.
In February 2015, A military plane dropped a bomb on mourners in a Niger village on the border with Nigeria, killing 37 people and wounding 20 others. The plane was reportedly targeting Boko Haram.
Last July, Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped at least 185 women and children and killed 32 people in a raid in northeastern Nigeria, according to local officials.
Gunmen in pickup trucks attacked the village of Gumsuri, just north of Chibok, shooting down men before herding women and children together. News of the attack took four days to emerge because of a lack of communication.
In April 2014, more than 200 teenage schoolgirls were abducted from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in northeast Nigeria. Several other innocent people have been injured, abducted or killed before and since, but this mass kidnapping has been the largest to date, gaining worldwide attention.
The group responsible for the abductions is Boko Haram, which means "western education is a sin." The group is an Islamic militant group in Nigeria. The goal of Boko Haram is to "destroy the secular Nigerian state" and replace it with an Islamic state.
Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, is elusive, operating mostly in the shadows. He resurfaces every once in a while in videotaped messages to mock the effectiveness of the Nigerian military or send messages to the public. A video obtained by Agence France-Presse shows what the leader intends to do with the girls: "By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace."
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan remained silent for three weeks after the kidnappings in April. But he eventually pledged during a nationally-broadcast speech to find the girls. "Wherever these girls are, we'll get them out," he said.
The abductions sparked protests all over the world, including these women in New Zealand.
On May 12, a video emerged purportedly showing some of the kidnapped girls in Muslim headdresses. Boko Haram's leader claimed they had converted to Islam, and offered to free them in exchange for prisoners.
On Oct. 16, 2014, the Nigerian government announced a ceasefire agreement that included the release of more than 200 of the kidnapped girls. But it never went through.
Boko Haram leaders have now admitted they sold many of the girls into slavery or married them off to group members.